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 33rd IChO           Problem 6                                         12 Points
Organic chemistry of Indian spices

The rhizomes of ginger (Zingiber officinale) are well known for their medicinal and
flavoring properties. In Ayurveda (the traditional system of medicine in India),
different formulations of ginger are used for the treatment of gastrointestinal
problems, common cold and other ailments. Several compounds are responsible for
the pungency of ginger. Many are simple substituted aromatic compounds with
different side chains. Three of them, Zingerone, (+)[6] Gingerol (to be referred
hereafter as Gingerol only), and Shogaol are particularly important.

Zingerone     C11H14O3

Gingerol      C17H26O4

Shogaol       C17H24O3

6.1   Zingerone gives positive FeCl3 and 2,4–DNP (2,4–dinitrophenylhydrazine)
      tests. It does not react with Tollen’s reagent. Therefore, Zingerone contains
      the following functional groups: [Mark X in the correct boxes.]

      (a)     alcoholic hydroxyl                       (e)    ester

      (b)     aldehydic carbonyl                       (f)    alkoxyl

      (c)     ketonic carbonyl                         (g)    unsaturation

      (d)     phenolic hydroxyl

                                                                             2 marks
Official version                                                        Page 25 of 39
33rd IChO             Problem 6                        Student code :

The data obtained from the 1H NMR spectrum of Zingerone are shown in Table 1.
Some other relevant information is given in Table 2.
Table 1 :        H NMR spectral data* on Zingerone

Chemical shifts        Multiplicity                                     Relative intensity
2.04                   singlet                                                 3

2.69,271               two (closely spaced) triplets of equal intensity 4

3.81                   singlet                                                 3

5.90                   broad singlet (D 2O exchangeable)                       1
6.4 – 6.8              two doublets with similar chemical shifts               3
                       and one singlet

(* For clarity, some of the data have been altered slightly.)
Table 2 :        Approximate          H chemical shifts () and spin–spin coupling
                 constants (J) of some protons.

    H Chemical shifts ()
                                                          O         O
         alkyl -H                0.9 - 1.5                C    CH   C              3.4 - 3.6

          C     CH               2.0 - 2.7                 C   C                   4.0 - 7.0

                                 2.3 - 2.9                Ph   H                   6.0 - 8.0
         Ph     CH

            O   CH               3.3 - 3.9               Ar    OH                  4.0 - 11.0

Spin–spin coupling constants (J)

    Alkenes              cis                 5 – 14 Hz (commonly around 6 – 8 Hz)

                         trans               11 19 Hz (commonly around 14 – 16 Hz)

Official version                                                                   Page 26 of 39
33rd IChO                     Problem 6                   Student code :

Zingerone on bromination with bromine water gives only one nuclear mono
brominated product. The IR spectrum of Zingerone indicates the presence of a weak
intramolecular hydrogen bond. The same is present even after Clemmensen
reduction (Zn–Hg/HCl) of Zingerone.

6.2   From the information above deduce the following :

      i.          side chain in Zingerone                                     CH2CH2COCH3

      ii.         substituents on the aromatic ring                           OH, OCH3

      iii.        relative positions of the substituents
                  on the ring                                                 1, 2, 4

                                                                                            3 marks

6.3 Draw a possible structure of Zingerone based on the above inferences.

                                  CH2 CH2 COCH3


                                                                                            3 marks

[Inference from mono bromination : 1 mark ; Inference from IR : 1 mark ; Inference from
Clemmensen reduction : 1 mark]

6.4        Complete the following reaction sequence for the synthesis of Zingerone.



             HO                             +            H3C     C    CH3                aq. NaOH
                       OCH 3

                       A                                         B(C 3H6O)


                                                  H 2/Catalyst              Zingerone
             HO                                                             (C11H14O3)
                        OCH3                              [copy structure 6.4 A to page 30]
[Inference on C from Zingerone: 1 mark ; Inference on A and B from C: 2 marks]              3 marks

Official version                                                                        Page 27 of 39
33rd IChO                 Problem 6                           Student code :

6.5   Zingerone can be easily converted into Gingerol by the following reaction
      sequence :

                         (i) Me3SiCl / (Me3Si)2NH              ( i ) hexanal
       Zingerone                                       D                         Gingerol
       ( C11H14O3 )      (ii) LDA , -   78oC                   ( ii ) H2O / H+   ( C17H26O4 )

      Notes : (1) Me SiCl / (Me Si) NH is used to convert OH into OSiMe3; the group SiMe3
                     3         3   2
              can be removed by acid hydrolysis.
               (2) LDA is lithium diisopropylamide, a strong, very hindered, non–nucleophilic base.

      i. Draw the structure of D.

                                                             -         +
                           H3 CO                CH2 CH2-C-CH2     Li

                      (H3 C)3SiO

                                                                                          2 marks

[Inference from LDA, –78C: 2 marks ; Inference from only LDA as a base: 1 mark]

      ii.     Draw the structure of Gingerol.


                           H3CO                 CH2CH2-C-CH2-CH-(CH2)4-CH3


                                                                                          2 marks

      [Addition of hexanal to the side chain: 1 mark]

      iii.    Complete the Fischer projection of the R  enantiomer of Gingerol.


                      HO                       (CH2)4CH3

                                                                                           1 mark

      [Fischer projection of (ii): 1 mark]

Official version                                                                    Page 28 of 39
33rd IChO            Problem 6                        Student code :

      iv.     In the above reaction sequence (6.5), about 2–3% of another
              constitutional isomer (E) of Gingerol is obtained. Draw the likely
              structure of E.

                       H3CO              CH2-CH-CO-CH3



                                                                               1 mark

      [Notion of positional isomer: 1 mark]

      v.      Will the compound E be formed as

              (a)    a pair of enantiomers?

              (b)    a mixture of diastereomers?

              (c)    a mixture of an enantiomeric pair and a meso isomer?

              [Mark X in the correct box.]                                      1 mark

      vi.     Gingerol (C17H26O 4) when heated with a mild acid (such as KHSO 4 )
              gives Shogaol (C17H24O 3). Draw the structure of Shogaol.


                       H3CO              CH2CH2-C-CH=CH-(CH2)4-CH3


                                                                               1 mark
      [Indication of plausible dehydration: 1 mark]

6.6   Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a commonly used spice in Indian food. It is also
      used in Ayurvedic medicinal formulations. Curcumin (C 21H 20O6), an active
      ingredient of turmeric, is structurally related to Gingerol. It exhibits keto–enol
      tautomerism. Curcumin is responsible for the yellow colour of turmeric and
      probably also for the pungent taste.

Official version                                                          Page 29 of 39
33rd IChO                 Problem 6                      Student code :

      The 1H NMR spectrum of the keto form of Curcumin shows aromatic signals
      similar to that of Gingerol. It also shows a singlet around  3.5 (2H) and two
      doublets (2H each) in the region  6–7 with J = 16 Hz. It can be synthesized
      by condensing TWO moles of A (refer to 6.4) with one mole of pentan–2,4–

      i.       Draw the stereochemical structure of Curcumin.

                                                                  O         O

                                                      H                                     H
                                                                  C   CH2   C
                                                          C   C                     C   C
                           6.4 A          H3 CO                                                   OCH3
                                                                  H             H

                                            HO                                                    OH
                                                                                                3 marks

      [Inference from NMR: COCH2CO:0.5 mark; C=C: 0.5 mark; trans stereochemistry: 1
      mark; condensation with dione: 1 mark]

      ii.      Draw the structure of the enol form of Curcumin

                                           OH     O

                   H3 CO           CH=CH-C=CH-C-CH=CH                           OCH3

                     HO                                                         OH
                                                                                                 1 mark

      iii.     Curcumin is yellow in colour because it has

               (a)     a phenyl ring

               (b)     a carbonyl group

               (c)     an extended conjugation

               (d)     a hydroxyl group

                                                                                                 1 mark

Official version                                                                            Page 30 of 39

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